A small but charming country located in the Balkan Peninsula, Bulgaria is full of attractions for both international students and tourists. If you want to study in Bulgaria, you’ll find an impressive range of natural environments: from warm, sandy beaches to striking mountains and ski resorts – and it’s also a relatively low-cost international study destination.
Established in the year 681, Bulgaria is one of the oldest European countries. Its rich history has left behind many historical sites, and plenty of stories and perspectives to explore. Between 1946 and 1989 it was a single-party communist state, but since then has been governed as a democratic republic. In 2007, it became a member state of the European Union, making it even easier to travel to and around the country.
Most of Bulgaria’s international students come from neighboring nations Turkey, Greece, and Macedonia, with large numbers also coming from Nigeria, Germany, Italy, Israel, UK, Ghana, South Africa, and India, amongst others. International students are likely to be attracted by the country’s well-developed higher education system, internationally recognized degrees, highly reasonable tuition fees, and living costs, and the safe and friendly living environment.
Universities in Bulgaria
There are 51 universities in Bulgaria, which are well-respected internationally. Academic institutions in Bulgaria offer various programs taught in English, French or German, which are popular among foreign students, and some universities also offer programs that are jointly accredited. English-taught courses are common at the master’s level and becoming increasingly common for medical degrees. PhDs usually take three years to complete.
Higher education in Bulgaria follows the Bologna Process, which ensures compatibility with the qualifications on offer across European universities. This means that higher education follows the usual stages of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate. Undergraduate degrees take four years to complete, while master’s programs take one or two years (or five years if you directly after graduating from high school).
Three Bulgarian universities appear in the QS University Rankings: EECA 2016, a ranking of the top 200 institutions in Emerging Europe and Central Asia. These are:
Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski
Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski is the only Bulgarian university to feature in the QS World University Rankings 2016/17®, in the 651-700 range. It’s also ranked within the top 50 of the QS University Rankings: EECA, in 46th place. Also known simply as Sofia University (SU), Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski was established in 1888, and is both the oldest and largest university in Bulgaria, with several campuses spread across the capital city Sofia. Offering degrees spanning a broad range of subjects in the fields of humanities, sciences, law, IT, medicine, and economics, the university is well-known for its research, including contributions to Antarctic exploration. In commemoration of the university’s centennial in 1988, a group of mountains on Alexander Island in Antarctica was named the Sofia University Mountains.
American University in Bulgaria
Ranked 151-200 in the EECA ranking, the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG) is a private university which was founded in 1991. As the name suggests, it offers courses taught in English, and it has an international faculty and student body, with 39 nationalities represented on campus out of 939 students as of spring 2016. The American University in Bulgaria is located in the city of Blagoevgrad in southwestern Bulgaria, which is home to a large student population. Baccalaureate degrees from AUBG are accredited both in Bulgaria and the US.
Also ranked 151-200 in the EECA table, Trakia University is located in the city of Stara Zagora in Southern Bulgaria and was established in 1995. It was named after the historical region of Thrace and mainly teaches in Bulgarian, but recently began offering a small number of programs in English, including medicine. Trakia University has around 8,200 students enrolled from Bulgaria and abroad, and students can take part in Erasmus exchange programs and international research projects.
Other well-known Bulgarian universities include:
- St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo, which is known mainly in the humanities field;
- Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendarski”, which is reputed particularly for natural and social sciences, cultural research and technology;
- Higher School of Management, Varna, (previously known as the International University College), which is a hub for foreign students from more than 40 countries and offers many English-taught programs.
- Several UK universities have international faculties located in Bulgaria, including the University of Sheffield.
This article was curated from Top Universities Featured Image Credit: Georgi Hristozov, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons